East Aurora is justifiably proud of its many stately trees.
But environmental stresses like pollution, overhead wires, underground utilities and sidewalks put the village's beautiful forest canopy at risk, and residents are taking steps to assure that their verdant villagescape will remain an asset in the future.
The first step is a tree inventory, the results of which the village Tree Board will present Wednesday at a public meeting that is open not only to village residents, but to residents of other municipalities interested in developing forestry plans.
"There is no question that East Aurora's majestic 100-year-old trees make a significant contribution to East Aurora's unique atmosphere," board chairwoman Nancy Smith said. "They are part of the reason that East Aurora feels like a special place."
The tree survey was the first in Erie County to be conducted using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, which the board feels will help organize the work that needs to be done.
"The tree survey is our baseline -- it is the result of the previous generation's efforts in tree planting and tree care," Smith said. "We are the beneficiaries of those efforts. It is up to us to chart a course that plants and maintains the trees that will be East Aurora's future urban forest."
Trees have aesthetic and practical values. They increase property values by as much as 30 percent, save energy costs, improve air and water quality and provide habitat for wildlife.
But studies indicate the average life span of a newly planted tree in constricted downtown business districts is less than 10 years, with an average life span of 20 years in urban residential areas.
The survey will be used to help the board chart a tree planting and maintainance management plan, with the village's historic Roycroft Campus and Upper Main Street business district getting special emphasis.
The meeting, billed as "An Evening with the Trees," will also feature a number of speakers to help start discussions on what shape that management plan will take.
The meeting, which will be held at Parkdale Elementary School, has been split into two sessions. From 5 to 7 p.m., hands-on sessions will cover site assessment, bare-root tree planting techniques and young tree pruning. From 7 to 9 p.m., the tree survey and management plan will be discussed.